Knowing the value of your personal injury claim is the first step in the fight for fair compensation. Cases settle every day for amounts ranging from thousands to millions of dollars. The amount that your case could settle for will depend on the unique factors involved, so there is really no “average” that will tell you how much yours is worth.
A skilled Los Angeles personal injury attorney can give you the types and amount of compensation you could be eligible to receive. Even though each case is different, a lawyer with experience handling a variety of injury claims will understand how the facts of your case might influence case values in your area.
Who determines a settlement amount
Parties, often acting through their representatives, come to an agreement on a settlement amount. Most often, a plaintiff’s attorney will negotiate with a defense lawyer or an insurance adjuster.
There are different ways that the parties reach a settlement value. A personal injury lawyer will look at the full impact on areas of the injured party’s life and assign values to those. A common method is to take the value of all financial losses due to the accident and multiply it by a number based on the severity of the injuries to arrive at the pain and suffering value. For example, a minor injury may only be multiplied by 2, while a serious injury might be multiplied by 5.
Insurance adjusters sometimes use computer programs that weigh many factors to calculate a claim value. These programs rely on the adjuster’s input, which may overlook some pieces of information, and tend to undervalue claims. A tenacious injury lawyer will use this as a starting point and advocate for a more accurate calculation.
Factors affecting settlement value
Some of the factors that influence a case’s worth are easier to measure than others.
- Fault – The more clear the defendant’s liability is, the more likely the plaintiff is to receive full compensation. An intentional act often brings a higher settlement value than an accident because fault is undeniable. The plaintiff’s fault is also a factor; if the injury victim’s negligence contributed to the accident, the settlement value is reduced to reflect their degree of fault.
- Losses – The amount of medical bills and other financial damages like lost wages are often the easiest part of a claim value to calculate, but they are not always clear-cut. For example, future bills and lost work opportunities can be a part of a claim, but they are harder to prove with precision. Non-economic losses like pain and suffering and disability are less definite and are often calculated using the medical bills as a starting point. Severity of the injury and prognosis also impact the value, as does the injured person’s medical history. If the claimant has had repeated injuries to the affected area before the accident, the defendant can be responsible for the worsening of the condition but not necessarily for the entire impairment.
- Outside factors – Some factors do not relate directly to the strength of the central issues of liability and damages, but they still impact a claim’s value. Some are subjective; if a claimant comes across as less than genuine or simply unlikeable in a deposition, they likely will not present well to a jury and the case will be worth less. If the liability is clear, a defendant’s insurance limits may cap the payout at an unfairly low rate. A plaintiff for whom a jury would likely take sympathy paired with a defendant who is unsympathetic can increase the value.
Determining a case’s economic worth may seem to be more art than science but a skilled personal injury lawyer should be able to share their reasoning so that you understand the strengths and weaknesses in your case.
Speak with a California personal injury lawyer
Regardless of whether you were injured in a slip and fall accident or a serious truck crash, a multitude of factors will influence your possible settlement value.
No one can guarantee what your case will net, but an experienced lawyer can help you see the potential settlement or verdict based on personalized analysis. The Los Angeles personal injury lawyers at the Salamati Firm represent victims throughout Southern California and we are here to help. Call today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.